Trustees vote to increase community colleges’ tuition

Tuition at the seven-campus Maine Community College System will go up slightly this fall, system trustees voted Wednesday.

The $2-per-credit-hour increase will raise full-time, in-state tuition to $2,700 for the 2014-15 academic year.

“This is a modest increase, but one we wish we did not have to make,” said Chairman Robert Clark. “State appropriations have remained flat in recent years, and the colleges have worked hard to live within very tight budgets. But as costs continue to rise, so does the challenge of maintaining a high-quality, affordable education.”

School officials said tuition and fees at the system are the lowest in New England.

The system has campuses in Auburn, Bangor, Fairfield, Presque Isle, South Portland, Calais and Wells and enrolls more than 18,000 students.


Truck careens off I-295, spilling full load of potatoes

A tractor-trailer truck that swerved to avoid a moose crashed down an embankment and spilled its load of potatoes on Interstate 295 in Richmond on Tuesday night, police said.

Traffic was reduced to one lane on I-295 south, creating delays for most of the day Wednesday as crews worked to remove the trailer and clean up the potatoes.

Talbot said a bulldozer, large dump trucks and tow trucks were brought in to remove the truck and mounds of potatoes.

The driver, Marc Benoit, 63, of Hampden, Massachusetts, suffered minor leg injuries and was taken to Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick.

Maine State Department of Safety spokesman Steve McCausland said the truck was fully loaded with potatoes from northern Maine and was southbound, heading for Connecticut.

The accident was reported at 10:17 p.m. Tuesday.


Dropped cellphone blamed for fertilizer hauler’s rollover

Police shut down one lane of the Maine Turnpike at mile 59 after a tractor-trailer truck loaded with fertilizer rolled over in the southbound lanes at 11 a.m. Wednesday when the driver dropped his cellphone.

Kevin Burns, 35, of Atlanta, Georgia, was hauling three-quarters of a load of bagged fertilizer from a Scott facility in Medway when he dropped his cellphone as he was exiting the turnpike at the Cumberland service area, said Trooper Anthony Keim.

When Burns reached down to get his phone, the truck hit and went over the guardrail, sliding 20 feet down an embankment.

“It came to rest up against a row of trees which prevented him from rolling into a swamp,” Keim said.

The crash did not spill the fertilizer.

Keim did not issue Burns a citation but the State Police commercial vehicle enforcement unit was investigating the crash further, he said.

Shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday, crews were offloading the truck’s fuel. Then they planned to lash straps to the truck and pull it upright, Keim said.

The crash occurred between mile 63 in Gray and mile 53 in Falmouth.

Burns complained of back pain but did not require medical attention.


Suspect in cocaine operation held on $50,000 bail

A Pennsylvania man faces charges of aggravated drug dealing for allegedly shipping crack cocaine from his home state to Maine’s midcoast, police said.

The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency announced Wednesday that Quinton Smith, 35, of Philadelphia was charged last week with aggravated trafficking in crack cocaine after his car was stopped in York and agents found 80 grams of cocaine base concealed in the floorboards. Police also seized $1,100 in suspected drug proceeds along with the drugs, valued at $10,000.

Agents with the MDEA’s southern Maine task force have been investigating an operation that each week shipped cocaine and heroin to the midcoast, where it was broken down and sold to individual users.

Smith’s criminal history in Pennsylvania includes drug dealing and gun crimes, the MDEA said. He is being held at York County Jail on $50,000 bail.


Tenant hurt, arson suspected in apartment-house blaze

Investigators say a blaze at an Augusta apartment building appears to have been intentionally set.

The two-alarm fire at the five-unit Cedar Court building was reported at about 5:45 a.m. Tuesday.

A tenant of a second-floor apartment, 59-year-old David Malia, was taken to the hospital in critical condition suffering from smoke inhalation.

Ken Grimes of the state Fire Marshal’s Office says the fire began in Malia’s living room, but how it started and who started it remain under investigation. Authorities have not been able to interview Malia because of his condition.

No one has been charged.


Death of Mount Desert man found in park investigated

Police are investigating the death of a man in Acadia National Park but say there’s no indication of foul play.

Park rangers responded to a visitor report of a body found in Duck Brook on Sunday.

WLBZ-TV reported the body was identified as 23-year-old Christian Emigh-Doyle of Mount Desert Island.

Park rangers and Mount Desert Island Search and Rescue had to lift the body 75 feet from beneath Duck Brook Bridge.


Top scientists gather to study how plankton are adjusting

Fifty of the most prominent ocean scientists in the country are at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in East Boothbay through Friday to study the response of marine plankton to changing ocean conditions.

Organizers say the workshop, which began Wednesday, aims to integrate genetics, biology and geochemistry to improve scientists’ understanding of how plankton respond to changing environmental conditionals in global oceans.

Plankton are tiny organisms that live in the ocean and are food for whales and fish. Dr. Michael W. Lomas, a marine biogeochemist at Bigelow Laboratory, said it is “vital that we understand everything about them” because of their critical role in the ocean’s food chain.

From staff and news services

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